Following a five-year tussle with their former record label for the rights to their own music, Matt Pond PA release their ‘The State of Gold’ album. Remastered and resequenced in reverse – because that’s how the band view the past – the album was inspired by Matt Pond’s visit to a winter cabin in Bearsville, NY – and the contrast of the landscape and snowbanks compared to Florida and California’s sand dunes…
Originally intended to be the closer, a re-recorded version of ‘Spaceland’ now opens the album – complete with guest appearances from Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws and Louie Lino. A fist-pumping anthem in the vein of Snow Patrol or Death Cab, it’s a fitting (re)introduction to the album while ‘The State of Gold Pt 2’ takes things in a slightly more experimental yet still uptempo direction. ‘History of Canada’ finds Matt in reflective mood as he talks about how it was snowing in summer and explains ‘I thought you’d see by now’, while ‘Four Eyes’ is equal parts college rock and indie pop as the band deliver a hopeful message amidst melodic guitar hooks and military drums: ‘Let’s go far beyond what we’ve ever known’.
‘Don’t Look Down’ is full of breezy harmonies as Matt offers visceral observations (‘A photograph of life, never quite sure enough’) before ‘State of Gold Pt 1’ finds self-depreciation taking over against a Willy Mason-esque backing: ‘I know how to be alone or at least I’ve learned to be alone’. ‘A Second Lasts a Second’ is full of similar pining over glacial piano notes and is so powerful: ‘A minute lasts a lifetime and now I’m years away’; ‘Do you still see me in the corner of your eyes?’ ‘The Starting Line’ picks up the tempo with a stadium-sized sound and a potent chorus: ‘As long as we know we don’t know anything’.
‘Emptiness ‘ is drenched in ’80s-influenced synths and electro beats as Matt recalls wild memories affecting his sleep and asks what he can do to find a way out of this slumber. ‘There Were Times’ has talk of seeing smoke and fire against a vivid backdrop that expertly builds up the tempo, while the opening lyrics also provide a tantalising narrative: ‘What strange room led me to this chair? What thunder road made the crystal clear? There were times when I was no myself. There were times when I was someone else’.
The closing ‘More No More’ – previously an opener, remember – is all deep synths and slow-burning build-up with worrying words about being ‘a friend of doubt’ before the change in tempo reflects a more optimistic attitude with repeats of ‘not any more’. After all the struggles to get back the rights to this record, ‘The State of Gold’ proves Matt Pond PA are on to a winner.